Sunday, February 4, 2018

Bishop’s Note: February 01, 2018 – Remembering

Bishop Eric Menees

Tomorrow, February 2nd is an important date in the Christian calendar, but a date that often goes forgotten. Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord; though in all fairness this feast has many names: The Feast of Lights; Candle Mass; The Purification of St. Mary - all of which speak to light, and joy, and faithfulness.

The service will begin with the opening collect, which will go something like this: “Almighty and ever-loving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

With this feast we remember that Jesus is the light of the world, and so we bring our candles to be lights to ward off the darkness in every way conceivable. And this feast commemorates the faithfulness of the Holy Family. On the fortieth day after birth, the family is to present their first born male to the Lord: “As it is written in the law of the Lord; “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” (Luke 2:23) At this same ceremony, the mother of the child would go through a “mitzvah” bath – a cleansing that would allow her to enter the Temple again for worship and the offering of sacrifices.

On this day – forty days after Jesus’ birth – Mary and Joseph humbly and obediently went to the Temple to present their first born to God.  Little did they know that Simeon the prophet would be present in the Temple. Simeon, who had waited his entire life to see the savior, had his prayers answered as he laid his eyes upon Jesus. Simeon knew instinctively that this child was the promised savior of the world. Simeon responded in song: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

The prophetess Anna also took this opportunity to “give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

Why is this Feast of the Presentation so important? Because with the Feast of the Presentation, we are reminded that a disciple is faithful to the Word of God and the Traditions of the Church. The Holy Family were faithful to the Word of God in presenting their son to God and completing Mary’s ritual cleansing. St. Simeon was faithful in believing the promise of God to deliver His people by sending forth His light through His Anointed One, who is none other than Jesus Christ.

I pray that tomorrow you will take the time to remember the faithfulness of the Holy Family, Simeon, and Anna by saying a prayer, reading the Word, and lighting a candle.

A very blessed week to you all!

(Note: sorry for the late posting. I was out of town. Dale+)

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